Ginger: A herb Scientifically Proven to Increase Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes

Ginger (Zingiber officinale), a kitchen spice used worldwide may be an effective treatment for the prevention of diabetes and its complications. Although in western countries ginger is mostly used as a cooking spice, it has been used as a medicine in Chinese, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times to help in digestion and as an anti-inflammatory helping to treat arthritis and the common cold.

Recent studies suggest:

  • that this popular kitchen spice may be an effective treatment for the prevention of diabetes and its complications
  • that ginger supplementation improved insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients

Although body produces insulin in Type 2 diabetes, unlike in Type 1 diabetes where little to no insulin is produced, cells are unable to use insulin to transport glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into the cells where it is used for energy. Excessive glucose that continues to circulate in the bloodstream can cause complications such as blindness and kidney disease in diabetic patients.

Ginger has many vital active compounds including gingerones, gingerols, paradols and shogaols. Among them [6]- and [8]-gingerols were most effective in increasing the uptake of glucose by the cells. Researchers explain that these gingerols increase distribution of a protein called GLUT4. When GLUT4 appears on the surface of the skeletal muscle cells (the major site of glucose clearance in the body), it enhances glucose uptake. Type 2 diabetics have insufficient GLUT4 for this process to occur. Therefore it can be hoped that gingerols can be used to manage blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetic patients.

Now scientists are expecting to examine further the effects of ginger in blood glucose management in human clinical trials.

In the meantime, adding ginger to diet can prove to be beneficial. Whole Foods suggests these quick ideas for adding ginger to your meals and snacks:

Ginger lemonade: Just combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, cane juice or honey with water.

Add extra inspiration to your rice side dishes by sprinkling grated ginger, sesame seeds on top.

Salad dressings can be made exciting by combining grated ginger or ginger juice to soy sauce, olive oil and garlic.

Add grated ginger to your favourite baked dishes.

For an extra zing freshly minced ginger can be sprinkled over sautéed vegetables.

For medicinal use, ginger products are obtainable in extracts, tinctures, capsules and oils, but it is always wise to check with your physician before beginning any new complementary medicine.

Further reading:

The effect of ginger consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arablou T1Aryaeian NValizadeh MSharifi FHosseini ADjalali M. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Jun;65(4):515-20.

Effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on plasma glucose level, HbA1c and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients. Mahluji S1Attari VEMobasseri MPayahoo LOstadrahimi AGolzari SE. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Sep;64(6):682-6.


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Arunima Maiti

Arunima Maiti

Biomedical scientist with special interest in reproductive biology.

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